The Princess Bride

The Princess BrideReviewed by Hanna

The novel, “Princess Bride” by William Goldman is an adventurous and compelling read.  An interesting addition to the story itself is that when Goldman was a child, he didn’t like reading, until his father introduced him to a book called, “The Princess Bride.”  The book was written by S. Morgenstern originally, and Goldman re-wrote it, summarizing some of the lengthy areas.  Overall, Morgenstern’s novel impacted Goldman’s life greatly.  As the story is going on, Goldman’s father is “reading” the book to him.

So the main storyline taking place in the book is about a girl named Buttercup who is very privileged and falls in love with her farm boy.  The story takes place in Florin.   She confesses her love for him, but he leaves to pursue his dreams in America.  She is left heartbroken, and is asked by the prince of Florin to marry him.  Buttercup refuses to marry him, but he threatens her and her family, so she is forced to go through with the deal.  Buttercup later hears news that Westley (the farm boy she fell in love with), is dead.  Buttercup is miserable, with her engagement to the prince and the news about Westley, so she rides off into the forest to calm down.  Little does she know, three criminals were planning to capture her and kill her to start a war between Florin and Guilder (Florin’s biggest rival).  If they capture the soon-to-be princess of Florin it would cause a stir in Florin’s society.  The criminals successfully capture Buttercup, and take her to a place called “The Cliffs of Insanity.”  A hooded black figure follows them up the treacherous journey to the top of the cliffs.  Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo are the names of the three criminals.  Each criminal has a certain story and trait about them.  Vizzini is the mastermind, Inigo is the skilled fighter, and Fezzik is the strong giant.  The man in black has a battle with each one of the criminals, with each of their particular strengths, a battle of wits with Vizzini, battle of strength with Fezzik, and a battle of endurance with Inigo.  Vizzini is killed in his battle. The man in black succeeds in all of the battles, and takes Buttercup with him.  He reveals himself to be Westley and they reunite.

The prince hears that Buttercup has been captured and sends his men to search for her.  Meanwhile, Buttercup and Westley have to keep moving so the prince won’t find Buttercup and force her to marry him.  They travel through the life-threatening Fire Swamp, in which no one survives.  Both of the lovers survive, but the power hungry prince finds them and captures Buttercup again.  Buttercup only agrees to go with him if Westley was kept safe.  The prince agreed and was off with Buttercup.  Meanwhile, Fezzik and Inigo reunite, and try and find Westley.  Westley is taken to a place in the prince’s castle, called “The Zoo of Death.” Westley is tortured there and eventually killed, and no one has any knowledge of his whereabouts.  Fezzik and Inigo find Westley after an extensive search, they realize he is dead, so they take him to Miracle Max.  Miracle Max is a “magic doctor”, who can revive people, and sometimes bring people back to life.  He agreed to help Westley come back, and it worked.  Westley came back to life, but Buttercup was getting married in one hour to a horrid prince.  Fezzik, Inigo, and Westley finally make their way to the castle, where the wedding was and try to save Buttercup.  The prince fights Westley, and the prince ends up hurt.  The three heroes, needed a way out of the castle without getting trapped by the guards.  Fezzik was already outside the castle wandering around, so he brought the prince’s horses right outside the window where they were all standing, and they jumped.  Buttercup and Westley rode off together, with no care in the world.  The ending of the book did not disappoint, it was the perfect mix of adventure and romance.  The point where Westley dies was the most baffling because there are not many ways to end the book.  After they overcome all of the obstacles they encounter, it makes the whole journey worth it.

I enjoyed this book very much.  There was a lot of character development and symbolism.  Each character has a very detailed back story that adds to the main plot.  I rate this book five stars out of five stars.  It was enjoyable and it kept you guessing what would happen next.  Each character grew as a person, and discovered their real capabilities.  Fezzik realized he is not just strong, he has a brain too, and he needs to use it.  Inigo had a new found confidence in him, now not always relying on others.  Buttercup found true love, but had to sacrifice a lot and prove her love for Westley.  Westley opened his mind, and created different strategies to help the person he loved.  Overall, after reading the book, you think of all the adversity the lovers had to overcome to just reach each other.

Check out The Princess Bride at the Newport Beach Public Library.

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Ender’s Game

Ender's gameReviewed by Courtney

Ender’s Game, a science fiction novel, is about a genius child named Ender who is
pressured into saving the human race through fighting battles in space. Written by Orson Scott Card, this book is written from third person point of view and tells the story of how Ender came to be so successful as a leader. This novel first takes place at Ender’s “normal” school. Ender is only six years old and is portrayed to be a genius when the teacher calls on him and he knows the answer, even though he was not paying attention. As the first chapter progresses, Ender is confronted by a few of his classmates who want to beat him up. Not wanting to harm them, but wanting to get away from them, Ender decides that his only option is to end fights from now until forever and really hurts one of them. In this early scene, Ender’s empathy and initiative to stand up for himself is clearly displayed. He is eventually recruited by the administration that runs the battle school in space once they realize that his real motivation to hurting the boys was for his own safety. Apparently, Ender is the type of commander that they want, even though he is known as “Third”. This nickname is given to him by several of his mean classmates because in this time period, every family is only allowed to have two children due to the enormous population. However, Ender’s parents are allowed to have Ender because the administration of the battle school wants a mix between his brother and sister. Why do they want a mix of his siblings? The whole point of this battle school is to train young boys in hope that one of them will show himself/herself worthy of being the leader that will save the human race from aliens. These aliens are called “buggers” and have been in war against humans twice. The battle school is looking for young children that they can raise that will maybe have the determination and creativity to end the war and save humanity. All of this hope is placed as a weight on Ender’s shoulders, who evidently commits to going to this school. Through various games and long hours of work, Ender keeps winning and winning and winning against every person he comes across. The reader is able to interpret many themes that are portrayed throughout the story, including sacrifice, leadership, love, and bullying. Throughout all of Ender’s Game, Ender learns that sacrifices should not be regretted when it comes to winning war. On a scale of one to ten, I rate this book a nine. This novel has so many messages that range from dealing with frustration to putting others before oneself. The only reason I do not give this novel a ten out of ten is due to its genre. I am sure that most sci-fi novel lovers will absolutely adore this book, but because I am not one of those fans, I cannot say that I entirely enjoyed this book. However, I believe that every teenager and adult should read this book. It is a great read and is not too long (324 pages). It is definitely not a book one would want to pass up on; Orson Card has a gift at delivering his characters in such a relative manner.

Check out Ender’s Game from the Newport Beach Public Library.

Letters to the Lost

 

Letters to the LostReviewed by Zoe

To most, May twenty-fifth is just another day. In Brigid Kemmerer’s novel, Letters to the Lost, May twenty-fifth is the most important day. It’s the day that connects two very lost souls together in a cemetery.

Enter Juliet: a girl who is suffering from the recent loss of her mother. To Juliet, her mother is the world. Juliet idolizes her photo-journalist mother, and aspires to follow in her footsteps. On May twenty-fifth, Juliet’s mom is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Since that day, Juliet releases her emotional turmoil through the beautiful and haunting letters she writes to her mother and leaves on her grave.

Enter Declan: the local high school’s stereotypical “bad-boy”, who actually has a lot more bottled up on the inside than it seems. On May twenty-fifth, Declan gets drunk and drives his dad’s truck into a building. As punishment, Declan is court-ordered to clean and mow the local cemetery. He is cleaning up when he stumbles upon one of Juliet’s letters to her mother. And he decides to write back.

This sparks an intense and anonymous relationship between these two teens.

 

As crazy as this might seem, being a book-aholic does have its drawbacks. After reading so many YA books, I can say that A LOT of books are unoriginal. This is not a bad thing if the author can properly execute the story so that it isn’t completely predictable; it’s even better when an author can draw readers in so that they feel emotionally invested in the characters. While this novel does have its cliches, the overall storyline is original and enticing. It was super relatable and the characters were very complex and deep. I tend to shy away from books told from a boy’s perspective because I feel like I can better relate to a female protagonist. Although this story is told from both Juliet’s and Declan’s perspective, I didn’t feel disconnected or uninterested in Declan’s story.

Overall I would say that Letters to the Lost is very refreshing. Although it is a love story, it is not a romance. The stronger themes are about personal growth and healing, and a really deep friendship. I don’t recommend this book if you are looking for a book centered around a romance. Another thing: this book isn’t the most action-filled. This isn’t a fit for someone looking for a book with a rapid storyline. This is because Letters to the Lost focuses on the internal conflicts and thoughts of the two main characters. Most of the book is spent describing the interactions between Juliet and Declan, which leaves little room for development outside of that. There are secondary characters, but they really take a backseat role. One of my favorite parts of this book is that the kick-off to every chapter is an intense message—wether it be by email or handwritten letter— sent from one main character to the other. The only drawback that this novel has is the sometimes predictable actions or the slight cliches that come up every once in a while. I feel like I knew how parts of the plot were going to play out long before the characters were even thinking about them, which was a little frustrating. I also don’t think that this occurred so much that it took a lot away from the book.

Rating: 4/5

Check out Letters to the Lost from the Newport Beach Public Library.

All the Bright Places

All the Bright PlacesReviewed by Nikki

In this wondrous y/a fiction, Jennifer Niven fits longing, sadness, joy, and curiosity into 388 pages of euphoria for the mind. This is a story about a girl who is trying to find her place and a boy who, while losing himself, helps her do it. In a quaint town inside of Indiana, Violet, a 16 year old still reeling in the aftermath of tragedy, meets Finch, a boy who fades in and out of reality. Together they wander through the year, learning about themselves and each other. All The Bright Places emphasizes that no matter how much you care for a person, you cannot always save them; this book stays true to that message on multiple occasions, leaving the reader wanting answers. The novel was unique and phenomenal, but held flaws that hurt the whole of the story.
All The Bright Places followed the basic flow of exposition, rising action, climax, falling
action, and resolution. This constituted of boy meets girl, and while dealing with mental illness and loss, falling in love. The book is written through Violet and Finch’s perspectives, showing their individual takes on life and everything happening around them. The author drew on her own life experiences while writing this book, using it as an outlet for her emotions and creating an easier connection to the characters than in other situations. ATBP takes a bold move dealing with mental illness, something that makes it unique off the bat, but the fact that this y/a novel was written by someone who was not dealing with those conditions, creates a somewhat incorrect portrayal of the characters. Written in just six weeks, the attention to detail put into this book is astounding, but if only it was set down and the reread after a moments pause, there could have been an even better end result.

Basing many aspects off of Dr. Seuss’s Oh The Places You’ll Go, left a pit feeling of
nostalgia, and a new drive to step into the world looking for adventure. The exploring done by Violet and Finch throughout the novel lead to one word, wanderlust, and that word will be with you once you read it too. All The Bright Places is one of those books you don’t put down, forgetting everything else until it ends. It’s riddled with quotes that can be used without context from the book, making it all the more memorable as time goes by. As something meant to relate to this generations group of teenagers, a quote like, “Stars in the sky, stars on the ground. It’s hard to tell where the sky ends and the earth begins. I feel the need to say something grand and poetic, but the only thing I come up with is ‘It’s lovely’”, really paraphrases the way many feel, and puts the book closer to your heart.
This book took rank at #2 out of my favorite novels, not only because of the story, but the
language and creativity put into each page. Locations such as The Blue Hole and Hosier Hill have taken up a space in my heart, and there will always be longing to visit them after reading this book. I give it an 8 out of 10 because it’s intoxicating and days after reading you will still be thinking about it, but if only a few tweaks were made it would have received a higher score. No matter how close to a cliché All The Bright Places is, the constant exploration of life against death and the many references to poets such as Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, makes it a must read that will leave you with a new view of the world.

Lord of Shadows

lord of shadowsReviewed by Kalista

Cassandra Clare’s newest release, Lord of Shadows, was a riveting adventure that allows readers to live vicariously through the characters and experience the rollercoaster of emotions that comes along with reading this book. All throughout the novel, readers silently root for the two main characters, Emma Carstairs and Julian Blackthorn, to be together. But their relationship is far more complex, as they continually run into conflicts that put both them and those whom they love in danger. Many adventures take place in the novel; a friend is put in mortal danger, a dangerous queen offers them a deal, unwelcome people invade and attempt to take their home, and a horrid law is about to be passed. The novel is filled with wild adventures that are so thrilling it can make someone believe they are right there next to the characters. The book before, Lady Midnight, was a good read, but Lord of Shadows by far exceeds its predecessor in more ways than one.

There is a common theme that frequently occurs in the novel; being ruthless to protect those you love. The prime example of this is Julian Blackthorn, as time and time again he schemes, tricks, and fights tooth and nail for his younger siblings. Along with protecting his kin, he would also do anything for his parabatai, Emma, whom he loves with all his heart and soul. As parabatai, they are the perfect fighting team, are bound to each other, and have a relationship stronger than the bestest of friends. Although, the two of them have began to develop feelings for each other that the law forbids parabatai to have. Because of this, Julian once again makes questionable, and perhaps immoral, choices to protect Emma. This was interesting because it is easy to make a real life connection to Julian. Many people in the world would do anything to protect their families and friends, just as Julian would. It was fascinating to read this book and see what Julian would choose to do when put in difficult positions.

As someone who prefers novels that can capture one’s attention with its thrilling plot alone, I found that this book was a perfect fit for me. The main aspect that peaked my interest was how the book’s plot continued to grow deeper and deeper as I kept reading. Another thing that held my attention was Clare’s bold plot twist towards the end of the novel. It was completely unexpected, yet a delightful surprise. Sudden changes of events like this are what keep readers on their toes.

If a reader were looking for a series that captured their attention with its thrilling adventures, classic comedy, and heart-wrenching romance, then I would one hundred percent recommend this series. If someone had time on their hands for some laid-back recreational reading, then they should begin the journey of what it is to read one of Cassandra Clare’s series’. It is a truly exciting series overall, and I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an adventure.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night TimeReviewed by Kimi

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is an eye-opening
novel detailing the coming-of-age of a fifteen year old boy, Christopher John Francis Boone, who has a form of autism. Although incredibly gifted at math and science, the protagonist has trouble understanding other people and the complex emotions he feels as his already confusing life grows even more chaotic. For instance, Christopher says he, “know[s] all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057” (Haddon 2). But, Christopher only understands the two most basic emotions: happiness and sadness. The book begins when Christopher finds his neighbor’s dog lying dead in the yard, stabbed with a pitchfork. Inspired by his favorite character, Sherlock Holmes, Christopher makes it his goal to figure out who killed the dog and why. He acts as a detective and even goes against his father who demands him to stop. But this quest to learn about his neighbor’s dog soon transforms into a quest for his mother, whom he originally believed to be dead. Christopher finds clues that reveal things about the dog’s death, and more importantly the deep secrets of his parents and neighbors.
Haddon does a fantastic job of portraying Christopher’s confusion about emotions and
other people. As a person without autism, it was difficult to grasp the idea that emotions could be confusing to someone because they come so naturally to me. Reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time , I surprisingly had no trouble understanding Christopher’s perspective. I put myself in Christopher’s shoes and felt tears in my eyes, especially at the part when he reads his mom’s letters and discovers the secret his dad was hiding. One of the ways Haddon helped me understand how Christopher thinks is through his writing style. For instance, he writes, “I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies” (19). Clearly, Christopher is very matter-of-fact,
and never clearly interprets or explains how he feels about what he is writing, similar to his perspective on the world. He is able to observe everything around him, but cannot understand it. Christopher’s writing style bored and exhausted me at first (especially when he says, “This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes”) (8) but as I continued reading, I realized that it was necessary to help me view the world through Christopher’s eyes.

I would give this book a five out of five stars because it truly opened my eyes and moved me in a way no other story has. A unique thing I especially enjoyed about the novel was the math and science excerpts and charts created by Christopher. From maps to sketches of emotions, Christopher includes many different diagrams to explain his thoughts. For example, Christopher describes his love of prime numbers and then draws a chart explaining how to find them. Although these excerpts could sometimes be confusing, overall they helped me understand Christopher’s scientific, rather than emotional, view of his environment. For anyone in search of a book that can make you laugh and then cry, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is the book for you.

Check out The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Newport Beach Public Library.

Moby Dick

MobyDickReviewed by Celine

Suffer from a leg loss and determined vengeance drives a hateful captain to relentlessly seek out “Moby Dick” in the fantastic 1851 classic novel bearing the same name. Moby Dick is an intricately written story by Herman Melville set in Nantucket during 1800s. The infamous opening line “Call me Ishmael” instantly whisk you back in time to the whaling days. Melville speaks thru as Ishmael ready to unfold the epic. This highly adventurous book is packed with details and events devoted to the reasons behind the massive whale hunting industry of the time in order to supply necessities and luxury goods.

Before Captain Ahab appears, you are greeted with portrayals of a series of characters who are eventually to be associated with the Pequod, the whaling ship. It’s hard to miss Ishmael’s habit in going into long descriptions for pretty much everything. Yet you will find logic in his descriptions of the town, of the people, of the whalers, of the tavern patrons, of religious beliefs, of how much he should be compensated, right down to the emotion he experiences at each turn. Ishmael quickly forged a great relationship with Queequeg, a standout in this novel. When the inn owner returned the strongest defense of this would-be roommate to Ishmael’s protest that he may be dangerous –“He pays regular”. Queequeg is definitely someone modern financial institutions and businesses will like. After getting a glimpse to Queequeg’s great credit record, Ishmael’s dramatic imagination and fear of the possibly cannibalistic Queequeg brought somewhat of a comic relief to what the story has in store later. Ishmael signed contract to sail with the Pequod and introduced Queequeg to join after overcoming ship owners concerns about Queequeg. Ishmael went on to describe all the days and preparations up to the time when Pequod set sail.

After sailing with Ahab, Ishmael revealed what he learned about Ahab and Moby Dick. Ahab suffered his loss when the whale destroyed his boat. (Can you blame the whale for that when it’s being hunted for its fat and ambergris?) Pain and agony is obviously greatly suffered by Ahab as the ship needs time to get back to Nantucket to reach sensible medical care. Ahab had the entire journey’s time to make the whole thing personal, and his torment formed the basis of the chase for Moby. As with Ishmael’s nature, you are loaded with tremendous detail of the whaling sea life, the ship crew including the ghostly Fedallah, and encounters of other ship with elusive Moby Dick sightings. Along the way as special bonus for faithful readers, you get heapings of “Encyclopedia Ishmaelica” devoted to cetology–all about whales for any aspiring cetologists.

If you happen to like combat battles between the forces of man versus the forces of Mother Nature’s beasts, this novel is the perfect time-eating and enjoyable story ready to blast away your mind. The story expressed the power of Mother Nature, and the ways it foreshadows a significant and huge showdown is treasure trove for detail hunters. Small but dramatic events such as the whaling boat being constantly followed by schools of fish and the sudden appearance of a giant squid marks the foreshadowing of the final encounter and battle against Moby Dick. Although it was clear the Pequod is steering toward its demise with Ishmael surviving to tell the tale, having the story told in first person makes it easy for Melville to craft a sense of mystery. This story is a must for history enthusiasts due to its fine delicate details of Nantucket, whaling industry, and whaling life. Ishmael shares his observations and thoughts of the time. I give the book 4.5 stars, because the awesome details in the book can at times distract from the main action. If you prefer more tightly packed actions, you may wish to pick up the abridged version but risk missing the wonderfully elaborate original version. All in all, Moby Dick is definitely not to be missed.

Check out Moby Dick at the Newport Beach Public Library.